San Juan Restaurants

In cosmopolitan San Juan European, Asian, Middle Eastern, and chic fusion eateries vie for your attention, with family-owned restaurants specializing in seafood or comida criolla (creole cooking, or local Puerto Rican food). U.S. chains such as McDonald's and Subway compete with chains like Pollo Tropical and El Mesón, which specialize in local cuisine. Many of the most innovative chefs here have restaurants in the city's large hotels, but don't be shy about venturing into stand-alone establishments—many concentrated in Condado and along Calles Fortaleza and San Sebastián in Old San Juan. Old San Juan is also home to a number of notable new restaurants and cafés, offering more artisanal-style cuisine—crop-to-cup coffee, rustic homemade pizzas, and creative vegetarian food—at affordable prices. There’s a radiant pride in what the local land can provide, and these enthusiastic young restaurateurs are redefining what Puerto Rican food is, bite by tasty bite.

Dress codes vary greatly, though a restaurant's price category is a good indicator of its formality. For less expensive places anything but beachwear is fine. Ritzier spots will expect collared shirts and long pants for men (jacket and tie requirements are rare) and chic attire for women. When in doubt, do as the Puerto Ricans often do and dress up.

For breakfast outside of your hotel, cafés or local bakeries (called panaderías) are your best bet. It's rare for such establishments to close between breakfast and lunch; it's slightly more common for restaurants to close between lunch and dinner. Although some places don't accept reservations, it's always a good idea to make them for dinner whenever possible. This is especially true during the busy season from November through April and on weekends at any time of the year.

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  • 1. 1919

    $$$$ | Eclectic

    Michelin-starred, Puerto Rico–born Chef Juan José Cuevas successfully operates this fine-dining restaurant in San Juan's most striking hotel...Read More

  • 2. Marmalade

    $$$$ | Old San Juan | Eclectic

    Peter Schintler, the U.S.-born owner-chef of Old San Juan's hippest—and finest—restaurant, apprenticed with Raymond Blanc and Gordon Ramsay...Read More

  • 3. Pikayo

    $$$$ | Eclectic

    Celebrity chef and Puerto Rico native Wilo Benet's flagship restaurant makes the most of its elegant surroundings at the Condado Plaza Hilton...Read More

  • 4. Aguaviva

    $$$$ | Old San Juan | Seafood

    The name means "jellyfish," which explains why this ultramodern place has dim blue lighting and jellyfish-shape lamps floating overhead. Eating...Read More

  • 5. Augusto's

    $$$$ | Miramar | European

    Under the direction of noted chef Ariel Rodríguez, this restaurant is one of the more celebrated in the San Juan area, popular with the city...Read More

  • 6. BLT Steak

    $$$$ | Steakhouse

    The sprawling dining room in this branch of Chef Laurent Tourondel's mini-chain invites you to relax: it's stylish and comfortable, with long...Read More

  • 7. Budatai

    $$$$ | Asian

    You'll feel as if you're entering a secret club when you arrive at this stylish hotspot in Condado's poshest shopping district. The restaurant...Read More

  • 8. Il Mulino New York

    $$$$ | Italian

    You'll want for nothing at the San Juan outpost of the Manhattan restaurant, where a team of tuxedoed waiters effortlessly coordinates your...Read More

  • 9. Perla

    $$$$ | Seafood

    The shell-shaped Perla restaurant is an architectural wonder, one of the most striking buildings in San Juan. Illuminated by artichoke lamps...Read More

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